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US-2 Closed Again, Bolt Creek Fire Grows
Red Flag conditions breathe life into fire, closing the federal highway near Skykomish and shrouding eastern Lake Stevens foothills with smoke
Some areas of Snohomish County will top 80 for the third straight day today — the first time a three day 80+ hot streak has occurred this late in September in recorded weather history.
The record heat and the accompanying low humidity and offshore flow led to Red Flag Warnings for dangerous fire weather and an increase in fire activity at the now 12,000+ acre Bolt Creek Fire some 32 miles southeast of Lake Stevens.
As a result, the usual iconic visage of Mt. Pilchuck reflected in Lake Stevens has been replaced by low-hanging smoke shrouding the eastern foothills of the Cascades.
Further, dangerous conditions along the southern edge of the Bolt Creek Fire (along US-2) caused the Washington Department of Transportation to once again close the state’s major east-west thoroughfare from milepost 46 to 49 near Skykomish.
The culprit, once again, was extreme fire activity above the Money Creek tunnel leading to rockslides and falling trees.
Evacuation levels were also upped as the fire backed down hillsides towards the community of Skykomish Tuesday morning. As of this morning, fire crews were working with backs to US-2.
Earlier this month, the J425 told you that this fire would be part of Lake Stevens life through the month of September. At the time — Labor Day Weekend — that might've seemed improbable to Lake Stevens residents, despite the film of ash floating down like snow flurries.
Now, as September stretches into October and the hot and dry weather continues, fire managers at Bolt Creek have pushed back control estimates by a full month - October 31 is the new predicted date for fire suppression — or as the Type 3 team leader wrote in his daily report, “a season-ending event isn’t expected in the near future.”
September 27 Report from Bolt Creek Fire
A Fire Weather Watch remains in place today across the Bolt Creek Fire area, but conditions are expected to moderate today as temperatures drop and cloud cover and potential moisture moves into the area tonight and tomorrow morning. Near Skykomish, the fire continued to move along Beckler Road yesterday, and crews will continue to both mitigate hazard trees and mop up in this area today.
The fire also continued to back down toward US 2 from mile marker 46 to 49, resulting in some larger, unburned pockets of vegetation burning along the road overnight.
Falling trees, rocks and debris from these burning pockets forced the closure of US 2 again overnight, but evacuations in the area have not changed.
The public can expect smoke in the valley and along ridgetops throughout the day again today, and potentially more visible flames both during the day and into the evening.
Weather: A Fire Weather Watch is in effect today. Today will be mostly sunny with high in the 70’s on ridges and 80’s in the valley. Humidity will moderate to 22 to 32 percent. East winds are predicted at 3-5 MPH with gusts to 8 MPH in the morning, but will become west/southwest in the afternoon as cloud cover moves in.
September 27, 2022 Morning operations briefing:
Evacuation Levels: Evacuation levels changed on Sunday due to weather and increased fire activity around Skykomish.